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The Writer and the Reader

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The critic and publisher’s reader Edward Garnett is a neglected figure, both generally and in studies of the poet and nature writer Edward Thomas. This paper outlines the literary friendship of Thomas and Garnett from their meeting in 1905 up to Garnett’s promotion of Thomas’s reputation after his death in the First World War. It argues that Garnett’s encouragement of Thomas to write from his heart, especially in short pieces of creative prose, prepared the way for the poems for which Thomas is best known. Garnett’s promotion of Thomas’s work is situated within Garnett’s larger mission of facilitating the publication of high-quality literature that was original, authentic, and ethically responsive to the world—in contrast to the popularization of the British periodical press wrought by Alfred Harmsworth, which not only undermined Thomas’s livelihood as a literary journalist but also clamoured for the war that killed him.


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